Chicken Soup for the Pain-Weary Soul

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

March 19th, 2008 • Nutrition for Natural Pain ReliefPrint Print

Over the years, I have gathered information about food as medicine — specifically, about anti-inflammatory foods and supplements that help decrease pain levels and boost energy. While there are numerous recipe books based on the use of these foods, I have never gone farther than buying the books and admiring their pretty covers, as they gather dust on my kitchen shelf.

You see, I’m one of those hyper-creative types who relishes the trial-and-error process of figuring things out. Like a domestic version of the mad scientist, I am often found dashing about the kitchen, throwing this and that into a boiling cauldron (cackling required, black pointy hat optional), sniffing and tasting as I go along.

Besides that, I just can’t be bothered to measure things precisely, and half the time I’ve never heard of the ingredients or kitchen utensils that a recipe book requires for a particular dish. It’s all very daunting to me.

Oh yeah, then we get to the issue of time — as in, who took it, where did they put the damn thing, and can I please have it back?

The upshot is that I have devised my own quick & dirty how-two guidelines for throwing together no-nonsense, anti-inflammatory, nutritious meals. These are designed with the whole chronic pain patient in mind — combining our need for food-as-medicine with our need to do stuff in a way that doesn’t exhaust, overwhelm, or cause us pain.

That said, here is the first in my series of un-recipe recipes:

Chicken Soup for the Pain-Weary Soul


  • A pot
  • Something to stir the soup

Basic Ingredients

  • Water
  • Chicken
  • Anti-inflammatory, green-leafy vegetables (kale, chard, mustard greens, spinach…)
  • Anti-inflammatory, spicy stuff (ginger, garlic, turmeric, rosemary)

Optional Ingredients to Make the Soup Tasty

  • Coconut milk (I use the lower-calorie kind)
  • Shredded coconut
  • Vegetable broth or some other dry soup mix
  • Beets (when mixed with the coconut milk, the soup turns pink! How cool is that?)
  • Miscellaneous vegetables you want to save from rotting in the refrigerator
  • Raisins
  • Cardamom
  • Any other spices that pique your fancy


  • Use filtered water if possible
  • Use organic ingredients if possible
  • If time or chopping is an issue, buy pre-packaged, pre-washed fresh vegetables, or buy frozen vegetables. I personally go to Trader Joe’s market, where the pre-packaged stuff is relatively cheap.
  • Make enough for several servings, and immediately freeze whatever you don’t use. I like to freeze the soup in containers that hold about two servings worth of soup, so that the soup is always fresh when I defrost it and heat it up.


  1. Fill the pot one-half to two-thirds full of water, depending on how many ingredients you’re going to put in it. (Remember that the more ingredients you put, the higher the water will rise. You don’t want the water to overflow when it boils, unless you are in one of those bursting-at-the-seams-with-energy days, where you will delight in cleaning up the mess.)
  2. Dump in whatever stuff you’re putting in the soup
  3. Boil your concoction until the chicken is tan, i.e., fully cooked, through-and-through
  4. Enjoy!

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